"The Dormouse is asleep again," said the Hatter, and he poured a little hot tea upon its nose.
The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, "Of course, of course: just what I was going to remark myself."
The Dormouse, like the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, was part of Carroll’s addition to the printed edition. A Dormouse is a small rodent, sort of a cross between a squirrel and a mouse, which is particularly famous for its long period of hibernation. Carroll’s Dormouse too is characterized by his extreme sleepiness, which keeps him out of most of the Mad Tea Party conversation and provokes some violence from the other two characters, who poke him and poor hot tea on his nose.
The Dormouse appears, sometimes only briefly, in most Alice adaptations, and is also a favorite among illustrators. Though a fairly minor character, the Dormouse has also received some attention from Alice critics. Geza Roheim, for example, reading the Dormouse from a psychoanalytic angle, identifies the his tendency to fall asleep as a symptom of withdrawal (333).
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Chapter 7
Reappears in Chapter 11
Below you can see illustrations of the Dormouse as they have changed over time. Note how many illustrators like to represent the dormouse in the teapot. Click on an artist in the right hand column to see the next illustration.
The Dormouse, though playing a minor role in most film adaptations, is nevertheless always included as an essential element of what makes a Mad Tea Party a Mad Tea Party. Here you can see a few clips of some notable Dormouses (Dormice?): Disney’s 1951 Dormouse, which looks more like a mouse; the Tim Burton version (2010), in which the Dormouse is portrayed as a sort of female warrior who is apparently in love with the Mad Hatter; and the “Western” Dormouse from the Broadway musical “Alice at the Palace.” Also noteworthy is Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 song “White Rabbit” which ends with the lyric “Remember what the Dormouse said / Feed your head.” The lyric refers to the scene at the trial of the Knave of Hearts, where the Hatter is giving his testimony but cannot remember what the Dormouse said (the Dormouse never actually says “feed your head”).
A Mad Tea Party
Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
A Mad Tea Party Clip (Johnny Depp)
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Mad Tea Party
"Alice at the Palace" (1981)
Wikipedia Article on the Dormouse
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